The young man who had very little chances of seeing any hope for himself as an actor in the nightmarish city of dreams but kept his hopes high even from the dark and dreary room he shared with four other dreamers in a slum called Kher Nagar has stayed on to break new records. Anupam Kher, the chameleon of a talent is now busy doing his 500th film in Hollywood, a feat achieved by very few class and caliber.

Anupam is currently in New York making history. He is shooting for his landmark 500th film “The Big Sick”which is directed by Michael Showalter and stars Oscar Award winner Holly Hunter, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano star of the popular TV serial “Everybody Loves Raymond” and the Pakistan-born actor, writer, producer Kumail Nanjiani.  The film deals with the marriage of a Pakistani with an American woman and is slated for release next year.

Kher was in a reflective mood on reaching the milestone and said, “It has taken me 32 years to achieve this watershed moment, but when I look back, it is as if all that time has flashed by in a blink.”

As he was shooting abroad, Kher was very conscious with the epochal moment, he was happy to have done his nation proud.  “Many people have played an important role in my career. The producers and directors gave me work. But I want to dedicate this achievement to the unsung, nameless and faceless workers of our industry: the spot boys, the technicians, the assistant cameramen, the make-up artistes, the costume assistants; indeed everyone working behind the scenes to make the magic happen for the big screen.”

In the three decades of his professional life, Kher has evolved as perhaps no one else in the entertainment business.  Apart from being an actor, he has been a producer, director, teacher, author and motivational speaker.

Kher’s journey in the industry began over three decades ago when he arrived in Mumbai and took up residence at 2/15 Kher Wadi, Kher Nagar, Kher Road in Bandra-East.  “I thought I had arrived and was Destiny’s child with that address, but it was not to be. It was a long haul before I bagged my first film, Mahesh Bhatt’s “Saraansh” which was released on May 25th, 1984.”   Kher was actually rejected by the producers of the film (Rajshri Productions), who preferred a recognised star (Sanjeev Kumar) for their project, even though he had been signed on for the role of the retired, principled school teacher B V Pradhan. But it was because of Kher’s insistence that ‘no one can do the role better than me!’ that got him back his break. The rest is history.

Kher’s life had many more ups and downs, all of which he has detailed in his autobiographical play “Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai” which has been performed 360 times  to packed houses in over 20 countries.  Never fazed by reverses, Kher attributes a large part of his success to his belief in never being afraid of failure and his motto of doing things and not merely thinking about doing them.

Winner of several national and international awards for his acting prowess and commitment to social causes, Kher’s prolific career has included several iconic roles in blockbusters including “Daddy”, “Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge”, “Hum Aapke Hain Koun”, “Karma”, “Lamhe”, “Mainhe Gandhi Ko Nahin Maara”, “Khosla Ka Ghosla”, “Special 26” and “A Wednesday”.  Kher also has the largest footprint globally in international productions.

Kher’s overseas foray began with Gurinder Chadha’s “Bend It Like Beckham”. He has been directed by Oscar winning stalwarts like Ang Lee in “Lust”, Caution and Woody Allen in “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger”In 2012 he co-starred in the Academy Award-winning “Silver Linings Playbook” and in it he emerged as the first Indian actor to share screen space with the Hollywood legend Robert De Niro.

Kher’s other films awaiting release are Neeraj Pandey’s biopic “MS Dhoni” and “The Headhunter’s Calling”, directed by Mark Williams and starring Gerard Butler and the many time Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe.

Kher’s initiatives include the setting up of a world-class acting school ACTOR PREPARES in Mumbai “to give back to the industry which has bestowed fame and fortune, on me…”; setting up the Anupam Kher Foundation for disadvantaged children and authoring a best-selling motivational book “The Best Thing About You Is You”… which has been translated into 6 languages and is in its 19th edition.

And I have been a lucky witness to the rise of this amazing man who once walked the streets of Mumbai, did not have the money to have his breakfast, lunch or dinner, who had just two pairs of the cheapest clothes which had pockets enough to pack all his many hopes, desires and dreams in. It makes my head go into a whirl as I look back on the time when he walked from studio to studio and all he was offered if he was offered anything; it was all those roles rejected by veteran actors like A.K Hangal, Om Prakash and Shivraj. What a way you have come my friend and what a long way you still have to go!

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